We all know the term – feel the fear and do it anyway. It makes great t-shirts for teenagers.
However recently an HBR blog by Peter Bregman had me thinking. He illustrated an excellent point – essentially using fear as a signal to stop doing something, to change your ways, to create a better future, a better leader.
It took me a while to get it as it seemed so obvious.
Then I realised as much as it seemed an obvious way to lead, in fact not many people lead (or live) effectively by using fear as a signal for changing their ways.
This is even more ironic as the ‘fear’ mechanism is there to prepare us.
So why don’t we use it as a signal to prepare for change?
Bregman made the link between fear and habits being hard to break.
I propose another mechanism – we take the easy way out.
We repeatedly experience fear and do it anyway because changing is too hard. The original slogan isn’t great insight, it’s great observation of what we do.
Here are some ways to start to tip the balance:
• I have a report due (Feel the fear, don’t wait until the last minute)
• My boss could react badly to how this develops (Feel the fear, keep them informed)
• The person I delegated that too might muck it up (Improve your delegation skills)
• I’m not very good at this (Find a way to get better)
• The customers/clients may leave (Do it better, delight them!)
• This could seriously harm someone (Don’t do it)
• I’m procrastinating (Do it)
Every expert has practised, practised, practised.
They practise at not making as many mistakes.
Feel the fear and don’t keep doing what you’ve always done.